BERLIN- A holiday matinee between Decatur and Snow Hill last Thursday certainly lived up to the hype with the Seahawks prevailing, 75-65, in a hard-fought game in front of a big, bipartisan crowd in Berlin.
Last Thursday’s game had a lot of story lines going in, including the first head-to-head matchup between Decatur Head Coach Bryon Johnson and younger brother Shawn Johnson, who took over the reins this year in Snow Hill. The two teams are natural Worcester County rivals and there were also early high stakes in the Bayside South standings.
Judging by the standing-room-only crowd, fans from both sides sensed something special was about to go down and the varsity game that followed did not disappoint. Snow Hill jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first and the Seahawks did not get on the board until the 3:51 mark on a steal and layup by Drew Haueisen. Decatur got a big boost from Gabe Aluma off the bench late in the first quarter. Aluma got a couple of big blocks that brought the crowd to its feet and converted a couple of free throws down the stretch as the first quarter ended with Decatur ahead, 8-7.
After first-quarter jitters by both teams subsided, the pace picked up in the second quarter. Decatur’s Anterio Collins nailed a long three-pointer to put Decatur ahead, 11-7. Collins then dropped two free throws and Churchill Bounds added two more as Decatur went on an 11-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second to increase its lead to 15-7.
A three-pointer by Snow Hill stopped the bleeding, but Collins hit Aluma with a great pass on a fast-break and the big man converted to push the lead back to 17-10. Trae Bunting then hit a long three-pointer, the first of five in the game, to extend the lead to 20-11. A put-back by Bounds, followed by another layup by Aluma put Decatur ahead, 24-16, with just under five minutes remaining in the second.
A fast break by Snow Hill cut the Decatur lead to 25-20 with about three minutes left in the second, but Bunting took over for a brief stretch during the latter part of the second quarter. Bunting found his spot on the left side and nailed two long three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Bunting added two free throws during the stretch and the Seahawks lead expanded to 33-23.
The Eagles scored on back-to-back steals and layups to cut the lead to 33-28 with 28 seconds left in the half. Decatur’s London Drummond scored on a put-back off a missed free throw to push the lead to 36-38, but Snow Hill answered with a three to cut the lead to 36-31 at the half.
Snow Hill came out firing in the third, nailing two three-pointers right from jump to tie the game at 36-36. The Eagles got a steal and converted a layup to take the lead for the first time since early in the first, 38-36. A long-three by Bounds stopped the run, however, and put Decatur back on top, 39-38. The two teams swapped baskets during a frantic part of the third quarter.
A layup by Aluma put Decatur ahead, 43-42 with five minutes left in the third. Bunting then scored on a put-back and nailed another long three to push the Decatur lead to 48-42 with 1:36 remaining in the third. Snow Hill battled right back with a pair of baskets to cut the lead to 48-46. Drummond closed out the third quarter with a free throw and the Seahawks held a narrow 49-46 lead heading into the fourth.
Collins started the fourth with a basket to push the lead to 51-47, but Snow Hill answered right back. Bounds converted a baseline jumper, but again the Eagles had the answer. With six minutes left in the fourth, the game was tied at 53-53. A nice runner by Jalen Planter put Decatur ahead, 55-53. Drummond then got a huge block on a Snow Hill fast break and the crowd was on its feet again. Bunting nailed yet another long three, but Snow Hill came right back to cut the lead to 58-55.
Haueisen scored on a steal and fast-break layup and was fouled. He converted the free throw and the three-point play to push the Decatur lead to 61-55. A long jumper by Bunting and a Bounds layup pushed the score to 65-56. Snow Hill hung around in the game through much of the fourth, but a huge dunk by Bounds served as a punctuation point of sorts and brought the crowd to its feet again.
With under two minutes left in the game, the Seahawks led, 68-58. With time running down, Snow Hill was left with little choice but to foul and Decatur made enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the 75-65 win. With the win, the Seahawks improved to 3-1 heading into the holiday break.